A Bouquet of Violets

By on 24 May 2011

All of the band members have had quite varied careers and none of them have sat around doing nothing after the original band moved apart. The original Violets consisted of Si Denbigh, Tom Ashton and Rosie Garland, they had kept in some sort of vague contact over the years but went their separate ways pursuing their own projects with Tom moving to America.

The March Violets by Graham Christensen

The March Violets originally sort of reformed back in 2007 but Rosie sadly got throat cancer so they all went on sabbatical. Now that she has recovered the band are back and Tom says that they’re inspired, energised and refreshed. In the time during Rosie’s illness Tom reckons that they all took stock and worked out what they wanted to say about the world and themselves. All of the band felt that the lack of a Violets album that wasn’t a bootleg, compilation or whatever was ‘unfinished business’. With Jo Violet now in the line-up Tom says “we have an additional voice to add to the mix. Being the only trained musician in the band she can help in ways that we didn’t have access to in the past. This is all exciting stuff and I’m looking forward to the work we’ll all be doing together as the album falls into place.”

All band members accept that rehearsing with Tom living in America has its moments but Tom gets round most of it by having a decent recording set up over there so it’s simply a matter of sending ideas back and forth via email and Yousendit as they develop. “At the moment I have about 5 or 6 rough ideas (in addition to the more finished album stuff) sitting on the hard drive from different sources – an operatic one from Jo, a slinky Massive Attacky sort of thing from Si and some guitar and drums bits and bobs. Si and myself will sift through and pick out the bits we like and pull it all together”.

“It’s not the most direct way to work with people, certainly in my particular case, it’s easier for the other three members to collaborate directly but hopefully we’ll be spending more time working directly as things move forward. Having said that, this is the best music I’ve been a part of in a long time so the process must be working to a large extent. Of course we couldn’t do this at all if it was 1982 so a big ‘thank you’ to Skype and the rest of the ‘tinterweb'”.

After the original March Violets parted company Tom guested for The Sisters Of Mercy, Danse Society, toured and recorded with Clan of Xymox and was part of a project with Cleo (who replaced Rosie in the Violets), Craig Adams (Sisters), Steven Hewitt (Placebo), and Mark Price (All About Eve) which was called Amania, with that line-up it’s quite surprising that they never released a thing. Tom says that one of the highlights of his career was a 40 date US tour with Clan Of Xymox (when they’d dropped the ‘Clan Of’ bit) to promote the ‘Phoenix’ album. “I still think it was way ahead of it’s time back then – great songs and great people to work with. Ronny and his wife Mojca have become lifelong friends and pretty much introduced me to my wife Rachel right at the start of the tour so this band was a pivotal point”.

“Getting to hang out and work with Nikki Sudden from Swell Maps was a bit of a teenage dream come true as I worshipped ‘A Trip To Marineville‘ when it came out, he just happened to be in town to do some shows, being a friend of Michael Stipe and all that and I got chatting and was thus roped in to play bass on a vinyl single release in 2006. Of course it being him we went out and got drunk quite a lot too, RIP and sadly missed. I did a show with The Sisters in 1982 before Ben Gunn and was asked to join by Andrew. I’ve always wondered how things would have worked out if I’d said yes…(I’m faithful to my friends) but stop at the point where the world has no ‘Snakedance‘. There are always lows and highs in the music business and I suppose a lot of them came through times with the original Violets. It was as cathartic, fiery and passionate an experience as I’d care to go through and I’m glad we’re coming back to revisit with our brains intact and the wisdom of years to back us up”.

Rosie Garland – by Al Pulford

Rosie Garland isn’t a big fan of the “‘aye twere better in’t old days’ malarkey. Whatever nostalgia I might have for vinyl, that was then and this is now. The music industry is the same in that there are still suits behind desks making money out of the talent. And there are still bands making music that the suits aren’t interested in because it’s not mainstream enough (whatever that is – I’ve never been able to work that one out completely). What’s changed is the arrival of t’internet, obviously”.

“The current reboot/remake obsession drives me nuts. Again, we’re back to suits who want to make money. A franchise that’s recognisable is a money-spinner, whether it’s an old TV programme (Star Trek), an old toy (Transformers), a board game (Battleship – I kid you not) or endless regurgitations of old and not-so-old movies (Saw #24, Rocky #682 or Star Wars – will someone please sit on George Lucas until he stops moving).This is why it’s vitally important that The March Violets don’t just perform or remix ‘the old stuff’. Yes, we do play it live but we are spending every minute available writing new songs. We’ve never been a covers band, and that includes our own material”.

The ongoing success of ‘Snakedance‘ is something that Rosie wryly finds amusing. “The artistic agony of being part of something that is regarded as a ‘classic’! It’s a delight. And if it’s a route into the rest of our music, then what’s not to like?” Rosie has found that one of the most pleasant surprises that she’s had is rediscovering how well she and the original band members get on. After only having random contact over the years she was naturally apprehensive as to how it would all work out but Rosie says “I like these guys!” In 2010 The March Violets played Whitby, Rosie reckons that the words ‘shambolic’ and ‘The March Violets’ go hand in hand. Half of the mixing desk channels didn’t work, the lights fused, no sound came from the speakers and an amp blew up, par for the course in the Violet world.

As most know, Rosie recently suffered from throat cancer and understandably that took its toll on her personally and emotionally. If you’ve heard the recently released ‘Road Of Bones‘ you will have heard a voice as clear as a bell which is fairly astounding as Rosie had to learn to speak again. She still gets very tired but having said that she’s now inbetween writing a new one-woman show which has been commissioned by Lancaster Litfest and she’s continuing to write poetry, short stories and working on her latest novel. Rosie Garland’s alter ego is the “the radical lesbian feminist separatist bitch goddess top femme dominatrix teeth-slashing tongue-lashing taboo-smashing neck-biting out-all-nighting vampire queen from Hell” Rosie Lugosi. Rosie Lugosi is one of the country’s top compéres and also helps to run Club Lash in Manchester.

Jo Violet – and yes her middle name is really ‘Violet’, is the very talented newest recruit. Formerly of Screaming Banshee Aircrew and still playing with Berlin Black, Jo is a classically trained opera singer. “I’ve never done it professionally or anything, that takes an awful lot more dedication than I have time to put into it, but I’m an enthusiastic amateur. My background is in classical music, and I’ve always loved singing, but my voice has never been very well suited to “rock” music. Opera suits me much better and I really enjoy it. Variety is the spice of life!”

Like a few other women Jo learnt to play the bass guitar because she doesn’t recognise gender boundaries, traditionally this instrument has been the domain of the male of our species but the ‘chick bass player’ is now becoming more common, probably more so than a female guitarists. Regardless of that, the previous band she was in needed a bass player so Jo saw that as a good enough reason to learn, and she’d been playing classical guitar since she was 8 years old.

Jo, who has a day job is still slightly stunned at being asked to join The March Violets as their bass player. “It’s been an amazing experience joining the legendary March Violets (I have to say that don’t I?!) But seriously, it’s been completely unbelievable – not something I would ever have anticipated. And who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to join a band that they’ve been listening to since they were a teenager? Of course, it’s hard work too – I already had a very hectic schedule before I joined the band, so my life really is pretty full right now. Sleeping and breathing are optional extras!” on the ‘listening to as a teenager’ thing Jo is too young to remember the 80s scene where it was all new and we were all making it up as we went along. She does feel though that the current goth scene is looking back to the past too much and that there are far too many bands intent on recreating the sounds of yesteryear, thus lacking originality and that “it’s a very insular scene. “Goth” music is not the only worthwhile genre out there and I think it pays to bring influences from other genres too, help shake things up a bit.”

Interview with Si Denbigh HERE

The March Violets on Facebook

The March Violets Official Site

The March Violets Pledge

‘Road Of Bones’ HERE

Tour Dates and ticket links HERE










About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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